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Their courts, their weekend

Havre High tennis teams host the 2019 Havre Invite today, Saturday

 

Colin Thompson

Havre High's Kadyn Acor hits a shot during the 2018 Havre Invitational tennis tournament last spring. The Blue Pony tennis teams host the 2019 Havre Invite today and Saturday at the Bill Vaughey Memorial Tennis Courts and the MSU-Northern Courts.

The Havre High tennis teams don’t have many opportunities to play on their home courts, so when the Blue Ponies do get that chance, it’s a really big deal.

And that chance comes today and Saturday when the Blue Pony boys and girls tennis teams host the 2019 Havre Invitational. The action starts today with the Pony varsity squads in a double-dual against the Hardin Bulldogs. Then, the Havre Invite, a tournament-style format, will take place all day Saturday.

“We’re really excited,” HHS head coach George Ferguson said. “We’re hoping the rain leaves us alone for a couple of days, but no matter what, we’re pumped. I’m excited for our kids. This is their chance to play on their home courts, in front of their family and friends. It’s something we don’t get to do very often, so we, as a team, look forward to this week every year.”

Havre kicked off its season last Saturday in Conrad, but the competition will certainly get ratcheted up this weekend. Today’s dual against the Bulldogs means Havre will take on the defending Class A boys state champions, and a Hardin girls team that also brought home a trophy from the state tournament last year. Hardin will also join the Ponies, Lewistown, Cut Bank and Conrad in Saturday’s Havre Invite, which will be held at both the Bill Vaughey Memorial Tennis Courts and the MSU-Northern Tennis Courts.

“Playing Hardin is always fun,” Ferguson said. “They are a great program. I’ve known coach (Mike) Flamm for a long, long time. He’s done such a great job with that program, and heading into this season, both their boys and girls teams are certainly right at the top of Class A, so every match we play against them will be tough, but it will also be great for our kids. I’m just so thankful they chose to add our tournament to their schedule, and we’re excited to have them here in Havre again.”

Havre is also excited to be in Havre.

The Pony boys are a top team, led by the veteran doubles teams of Tommy Brown and Tyrel Kjersem and Reese Bulkley and Jake Huston. Sophomores Josh Warp and Mick Chagnon lead the singles contingent for Havre, while seniors Josiah Harrison and Jack Johnsrud, juniors Troy Powell and John South and freshmen Trenton Maloughney and Randy Tommerup will round out the HHS varsity lineup. On Saturday, many more Havre boys will also compete in the Havre Invite.

“Overall, we have a pretty young boys team this year,” Ferguson said. “So we really look to those top two doubles teams for leadership. Those four guys are really going to help mold this team this season. But all of our boys, from our seniors to our freshmen, they’re all very talented and doing a great job right now. We just need matches and experience.”

The Havre girls certainly aren’t short on experience, not with seniors Kadyn Acor, Marcee Murphy, Devyn Solomon, Teagan Fee, Tiffany Ralph, McKenzie Tommerup, Kassidy Compton and Brynn Nault all leading the way. Add to that, a trio of sophomores who will see varsity time this weekend in Tamera O’Leary, Sylvia Wilting and Sydney Marchion, as well as a host of younger players, some who will be gone for District Music Festival, and the Pony girls are poised to be a very strong team, not only in Havre this weekend, but all season long.

“Obviously, we have a ton of experienced girls,” Ferguson said. “All of the seniors who will be honored this weekend, they all have a ton of tennis experience, and they’re all going to play huge roles in how we do this season. But I also think the younger girls are doing a great job of adding firepower to this team. Girls like Tamera, Sylvia, Sydney, Angela Rhines and Kate Morehouse, they’re really coming on strong, and when you add in the new freshmen we have, we have a really deep and competitive girls team this year.”

Seniors, newcomers, freshmen, they’re all more reasons why Ferguson cherishes the Havre Invitational so much. Everybody gets the opportunity to play at home, and for the seniors, it will certainly be a special day.

“The Havre Invite is special for so many reasons,” Ferguson said. “We’ll honor our seniors Saturday morning, and it will be emotional because this group, they’ve not only been with me and coach (Jeff) Miller for such a long time now, but they all have really become exactly what you want in a tennis team, in a group of tennis players. They have all loved the sport, they have all given this program everything we’ve asked them to, and they’ve all been amazing Blue Ponies the last four years. So it’s going to be an emotional morning for me, that’s for sure.

“The Havre Invite is also big for us because, like I said, all our kids get to play,” Ferguson added. “No matter their grade or skill level, varsity or JV, they get to compete on their home courts, and that’s another thing we don’t get to do often, so I’m really excited for all of those younger kids and our newcomers.”

Oh, and there’s one more reason why this week is special to Ferguson. And the name of the tournament says it all.

“It’s the Havre Invite, or as we in the program say ‘The Invite,’” he said. “I’ve been doing this a long time, and this week never gets old. It’s always special for me, and for our entire program. It’s our chance to show our school, and the community what our program is all about. It’s these kids’ chance to showcase how much pride and passion, how much heart and soul they put into Blue Pony tennis. We work these kids very hard, they put a lot into this, and so this weekend, this is a really big week for them to show off all that hard work and pride they have in our program, and I can’t wait to see all our kids in action.”

Havre will dual Hardin this afternoon and into the evening, while the Havre Invite, which features brackets for boys and girls singles, and boys and girls doubles, will start at 8 a.m. Saturday at both the Bill Vaughey and MSU-Northern courts.

 

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